baby

The incredible photo of a newborn twin looking for the brother who should have been there.

Heather Bowman is a mother who knows grief, and she wants anyone who’s suffered a pregnancy loss to know they’re not alone.

Becoming a mum was always part of her plan. So, at age 36, she decided to fulfil her dream – even if it meant doing it alone.

“My dream was to always be a mum, and I was not willing to sacrifice becoming a mother because I had not found a husband yet,” the now 39-year-old, of St. Louis, Missouri, told Mamamia.

And so, using donor sperm Bowman conceived twins; which was a delight, and terrifying, at the same time.

“How was I going to take care of two babies at the same time as a single mother? But at the same time, I was so excited that I was going to have two beautiful children.”

Sadly, the pregnancy was short-lived. In a rare situation, Bowman went into premature labour at 16 weeks, and delivered a stillborn son and daughter. But a determined Bowman knew she wanted to try again.

“I have addressed everything in my life head on,” she said, and adding that becoming a mother would be no different. Not long after further IVF, Bowman, to her delight, saw “two strong little heartbeats” – she was having twins, again.

However, this time around, her medical team were cautious. They advised her to “reduce” the twins to one baby. It was an option Bowman simply wouldn’t entertain, and it’s a decision she’s relieved she made.

“Had I listened to them, I wouldn’t have my daughter because she was the embryo whose heartbeat was not seen the first couple of weeks.”

“I thank God every day that I listened to my gut and that she ended up being such a strong, little fighter.”

At 17 weeks, Bowman was given the news that there was no detectable heartbeat for her son, whom she named James.

“I was devastated to hear that my son was no longer with us. I [also] knew I was going to have to carry him until I delivered my daughter,” she said.

Which made it a bittersweet moment when her daughter, Leti, was born healthy at 36 weeks.

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“I got to see [James], touch him and say goodbye,” Bowman recalled.

“I knew I had to grieve him, but also focus on my beautiful daughter who I could hold in my arms.”

Which is why the new mum wanted professional photos of her newborn daughter. She approached Jessica Young, a local family photographer. When Young learned what happened to James, she had an inspired idea on how to include his memory in the shot.

“I had told Jessica my story about all of my loss, and the loss of James.

“Jessica had emailed me the morning of Leti’s newborn shoot saying she had a wonderful idea and way to honour her brother, if I was comfortable doing so.”

Bowman thought it was a great idea, but wasn’t sure what the photographer had in mind, until she arrived at the studio for the shoot. When she saw the staging of the two cradles, and one with blue swaddling in it to represent James, she “lost it”. But she couldn’t have expected the magic that was about to happen.

“Then when [Young] placed Leti in her place, all Leti could do was look over to where her brother would have been.

“I couldn’t help but feel he was lying there, letting her know he was there and that he is always with her.

“She smiled quite a few times while looking in his direction.

“So this photo means the world to me, I will cherish it forever and I cannot wait to tell her the story of how she came to be and how her brothers and sister watch over her day and night.”

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